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ITC Report Says TPP to Impact Footwear More than Apparel

When the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally comes to town, footwear will be a bigger winner than apparel.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on Wednesday released its report on the impact the TPP trade agreement will have on America’s economy and its manufacturing industry.

So far, it seems it will have only a slight (though positive) effect on U.S. trade.

According to the report, TPP would increase overall U.S. exports 1 percent by 2032, compared to a scenario without TPP. That would bring projected exports to $27.2 billion. U.S. imports would inch up 1.1% to $48.9 billion. U.S. exports to its new trading partners would jump 18.7%, with imports from those countries growing by 10.4%.

Footwear, however, will be a brighter spot than apparel when it comes to benefitting from the deal.

The Commission said TPP will bring about a 1.4% increase in U.S. imports of apparel from the world, while footwear imports would increase by almost double that to $1.1 billion, or a 2.7% increase.

And TPP’s impact on U.S. footwear exports is expected to be significant.

With TPP, the U.S. will export 23.6% more footwear to the TPP countries, most of which will be a 76.5% increase in footwear destined for Vietnam (consisting primarily of parts used to assemble footwear for the U.S. market).

From 2013 to 2015, U.S. exports of footwear to the world grew 7.2% to $845.9 million, according to the report. In that same time, U.S. footwear exports to TPP countries grew at an even faster 22.4% to $400.5 million, and in 2015, TPP member nations accounted for nearly half (47.3%) of total U.S. footwear exports.

“Because U.S. imports already account for the vast majority of domestic footwear purchases, the significant growth in U.S. footwear imports from TPP countries, especially Vietnam, is expected to occur at the expense of China and other non-TPP footwear suppliers,” the report noted.

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U.S. footwear production, though, won’t see much of an increase, but the important news is that TPP won’t hurt domestic footwear manufacturing. The Commission said footwear output would increase 0.5% by 2032.

“The ITC report reaffirms the significant positive impact that this historic free trade agreement will have on the U.S. footwear industry and the U.S. economy — while not negatively affecting U.S. footwear production,” Footwear Retailers and Distributors of America (FDRA) president Matt Priest, said. “TPP is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for footwear companies and consumers, generating $500 million in savings for the industry the first year of implementation alone and $6 billion over the first decade. This is critical to the 21st century footwear innovation and job creation needed to propel the industry forward, and it will provide real value to American footwear consumers.”